Primates keep Lambeth on front burner

Published April 1, 1999

Bishop Frank T. Griswold of the Episcopal Church has invited primates from Africa and Asia who have been critical of how the church is handling the issue of homosexuality to “visit those parts of our church which cause you concern so that you may inquire and learn directly what has animated certain responses.”

The primates, six active and one retired, wrote in a Feb. 26 letter to Bishop Griswold that the continuance of action at variance with the Lambeth resolution that states homosexual activity is contrary to Scripture “would be a grievous wrong and a matter over which we could not be indifferent.” Each province is accountable to the whole Communion, they added, and urged Griswold to “take whatever steps may be necessary to uphold the moral teaching and Christian faith the Anglican Communion has received.”

In his reply, signed by nine bishops who form his Council of Advice, Bishop Griswold said that within the Episcopal Church as well as other provinces of the Anglican Communion, “there exist divergent opinion on the question of homosexuality.”

Those divergent opinions were articulated in the Lambeth Report on Human Sexuality, he added, and range from the belief that homosexual orientation is “a disorder” that might be changed to the belief that the church “should accept and support or bless monogamous covenant relationships between homosexual people and that they may be ordained.”

Because of those differing opinions, said Bishop Griswold, “We therefore find ourselves in a process of discernment and ‘testing the spirits.'”

Bishop Griswold also quoted from a letter sent by Archbishop George Carey to another primate in which he states that the Lambeth resolution “indicates where bishops stand now on the issue; it does not indicate that we shall ever rest there.”

In encouraging the primates to visit, Griswold said such action would provide them with an opportunity to query bishops and “to learn from the experience of homosexual persons, which is mandated by the Lambeth resolution.”


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